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Ancestry and Background

First, a character has an ancestry. This refers to the in-born biological abilities of your character, which in 5e can hold supernatural significance. For example, while your character might be a Human, they might also be an Elf, Gnome, or demon-blooded Tiefling.

Second, a character has a background. While many elves, for instance, are raised in predominantly elven cities and would be considered to be Fey-Touched, many characters are raised in more diverse cultures. A human might be raised by elves, and an elf might be raised in a Cosmopolitan city where they were influenced by a diversity of culture. Alternatively, perhaps your elf did not go through the same schooling as their peers, and instead went to a Militant academy. Your background represents the common skills and training learned by most members of your social circle growing up.

Your character will have special skills and abilities afforded by both your ancestry and your background. Each ancestry and each background are balanced so that they have approximately equal advantages, though as with all advantages, some may be better equipped for certain challenges than others.

Ancestry and Background replace the 'race' and 'background' systems from baseline 5e and do not work the same way. Click here for information as to how to use baseline 5e races alongside the new Elkan 5e ancestry and culture system (1).

Ancestry

 

Below we have listed every Ancestry in the Elkan5e ruleset. When creating a character, you should select an Ancestry, then a Background. Ancestry gives you most of your powerful racial abilities, but each Ancestry is a viable choice for any character archetype.

Unless otherwise indicated, an ancestry belongs to the type 'humanoid'.

Ancestry

Human

Humans are the most common mortals. While humans are not inherently magical creatures, they tend to be quick to adapt and learn from other peoples. They are a diverse people, both physically and culturally.

Size: Medium

Walking Speed: 30 ft.

Skills: one skill of your choice

Human Inspiration (1/Long Rest)

This is not the time you fail. You will try harder.

No Action Cost - Self - 1/Long Rest

When you roll a saving throw, attack roll, or skill check, you can choose to reroll and take the higher result.

In the world of Elkan, humans are a sizeable minority in most places. The largest population of humans live under the rule of angels in lands controlled by the Solar Hegemony. Humanity is often overlooked by the more magically gifted races, but exceptional humans have made up many of history's greatest heroes and villains.

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Human

Aasimar

Aasimar are mortals with a parent or ancestor who is an angel or other celestial creature. Usually, an aasimar looks most like their mortal ancestry, but with yellow glowing eyes and shiny skin. Sometimes, an aasimar has a halo or vestigial wings too weak too allow the aasimar to fly.

Type: Celestial

Size: Medium or Small

Walking Speed: 30 ft.

Language: Celestial

Senses: Darkvision 60 ft.

Cantrips: Light -OR- Thaumaturgy

Damage Resistance: Necrotic and Radiant

In the world of Elkan, aasimar are rare. The largest population of aasimar are human aasimar, and live with their angelic parents or ancestors in lands controlled by the Solar Hegemony. People usually assume aasimar are trustworthy people, but this trust is unearned. Those who know better view aasimar as being closer to their mortal heritage than anything else.

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Aasimar
Changeling

Changeling

Changelings vary in origin by setting, but are typically creatures of partial fey ancestry or born of a curse. Changelings have an inhuman humanoid form, and can change their appearance at will. They often adopt identities and a static appearance for most of their lives, but some have multiple identities they morph between on a regular basis. Concepts of gender or race don't always hold the same meaning for changelings.

Type: Fey

Size: Medium or Small

Walking Speed: 30 ft.

Senses: Darkvision 60 ft.

Shapeshifting

You shift your form, adopting a new appearance and body shape.

1 Action - Self - Permanent

You decide what you look like, including your facial features, hair length, height, weight, sex, skin color, sound of your voice, etc. You can replicate the appearance of someone you've seen. You can't appear as a size other than medium or small, and you can't gain extra limbs or other body parts, and you can't gain any extra abilities. You revert to your default form if you are reduced to 0 hit points (but not when you sleep).

In the world of Elkan, changelings are most often found in Morventry (where they are praised as performers) or the wilds of Maronne (where they are protected by druids and fey creatures). Changelings are usually born to changeling or shapeshifting parents. If either parent was shapeshifting during conception or pregnancy, the child may be changed and become a changeling prior to birth. As a result, spellcasters or parents who have been cursed may give birth to a changeling and find themselves horrified or unprepared for the shapeshifting blob. Young changelings often face much ridicule, as their impulsive shapeshifting may cause social difficulties growing up.

Dragonborn

Dragonborn are humanoid lizards with the blood of dragons running through their veins. In some settings, they are directly descendants of dragons in some way, and in some settings they are created magically by draconic gods. Dragonborn can also refer to half-dragons, the humanoid lizard-like offspring created when a dragon, shapeshifted into a mortal, produces offspring with a mortal. Dragonborn often have heads resembling the dragon corresponding to their color.

Size: Medium

Walking Speed: 30 ft.

Language: Draconic

Senses: Darkvision 60 ft.

Damage Resistance: Varies by bloodline.

Breath Weapon: Varies by bloodline. The DC for this ability equals 8 + your proficiency bonus + charisma or constitution modifier (whichever is higher).

In the world of Elkan, young dragonborn are injected with the blood of dragons when they are born, transforming them into magical creatures. Those without draconic ancestry almost never survive. After this process, dragonborn belong to a 'Bloodline', corresponding to the color of the dragon whose blood awakened them. The chromatic dragons- the red, blue, green, white, and black dragons- forcibly control their dragonborn servants. Belonging to one of the chromatic bloodlines means that you likely had to escape. The metallic dragons- the gold, silver, bronze, brass, and copper dragons- are more benevolent and allow dissatisfied dragonborn to venture into the world.

Regardless, joining a Bloodline means you are unable to join another (trying would kill you), and you will forever have impulses to act similarly to the personalities of your Bloodlines. While you can control these impulses, it is a lifelong struggle.

Chromatic Bloodlines (Click to Expand)

Metallic Bloodlines

Dragonborn

Black Bloodline

Damage Resistance: Acid

Breath Weapon (1/Long Rest)

You spew a jet of acid.

Action - 30 ft. line (5 ft. wide) - 1/Long Rest - Magical

Dexterity Saving Throw

  • Failure: 3d6 acid damage*

  • Success: half damage

*At Higher Levels: This ability's damage increases by 3d6 when you reach a total character or creature level of 5th level (6d6), 11th level (9d6), and 17th level (12d6).

The black dragons of Elkan live in the swamps of Ananua, where they mercilessly hunt whatever intelligent prey they can find. They enjoy inflicting horrible pain upon sentient creatures. Members of the Black Bloodline feel an intrusive sense of satisfaction from watching creatures in physical pain.

Blue Bloodline

Damage Resistance: Lightning

Breath Weapon (1/Long Rest)

You breathe a stream of forking lightning.

Action - 30 ft. line (5 ft. wide) - 1/Long Rest - Magical

Dexterity Saving Throw

  • Failure: 3d6 lightning damage*

  • Success: half damage

*At Higher Levels: This ability's damage increases by 3d6 when you reach a total character or creature level of 5th level (6d6), 11th level (9d6), and 17th level (12d6).

The blue dragons of Elkan live in the Sands of Nad, where they compete with each other for fame and status. They enjoy wielding their power over lesser creatures to mock or even ruin them. Members of the Blue Bloodline feel an intrusive desire to force weaker creatures to do things against their will.

Green Bloodline

Damage Resistance: Poison

Breath Weapon (1/Long Rest)

You breathe noxious green gas.

Action - 20 ft. cone - 1/Long Rest - Magical

Constitution Saving Throw

  • Failure: 3d6 poison damage*

  • Success: half damage

*At Higher Levels: This ability's damage increases by 3d6 when you reach a total character or creature level of 5th level (6d6), 11th level (9d6), and 17th level (12d6).

The green dragons of Elkan live in the Roots, where they run wild with twisted fey courts. They are narcissists, and create elaborate schemes to stroke their own egos. Members of the Green Bloodline have difficulty realizing that they are less than perfect, and find it comes naturally to blame others for their failures.

Red Bloodline

Damage Resistance: Fire

Breath Weapon (1/Long Rest)

You breath a great blast of fire.

Action - 20 ft. cone - 1/Long Rest - Magical

Dexterity Saving Throw

  • Failure: 3d6 fire damage*

  • Success: half damage

*At Higher Levels: This ability's damage increases by 3d6 when you reach a total character or creature level of 5th level (6d6), 11th level (9d6), and 17th level (12d6).

The red dragons of Elkan live in the Ashen Mountains, where they rule over their dragonborn, dwarf, and kobold slaves. They are tyrants, and will destroy any who get in the way of their domination. Members of the Red Bloodline feel an intrusive desire to dominate weaker creatures and suffer no insult.

White Bloodline

Damage Resistance: Cold

Breath Weapon (1/Long Rest)

You breathe a powerful blast of cold air.

Action - 20 ft. cone - 1/Long Rest - Magical

Constitution Saving Throw

  • Failure: 3d6 cold damage*

  • Success: half damage

*At Higher Levels: This ability's damage increases by 3d6 when you reach a total character or creature level of 5th level (6d6), 11th level (9d6), and 17th level (12d6).

The white dragons of Elkan live in remote tundras, hiding from their many draconic enemies. They are bullies, taking out their anger on whoever is smaller than them. Members of the White Bloodline have intrusive thoughts that the only way to overcome their own weaknesses is to victimize others.

Brass Bloodline

Damage Resistance: Psychic

Attuned to Dreams

You are immune to magic that would put you to sleep, and you are always lucid while dreaming, allowing you to detect creatures entering your dreams or attempting to influence you while asleep.

Breath Weapon (1/Long Rest)

You breathe a colorful cloud of stars.

Action - 20 ft. cone - 1/Long Rest - Magical

A creature that is already asleep or unconscious has disadvantage on this save

Wisdom Saving Throw

  • Failure: 2d6 psychic damage*

  • Success: half damage

If a creature is reduced to 0 hit points with this breath weapon, the creature falls unconscious, does not roll death saving throws or die as a result of this damage, and cannot wake for 1 hour. 

*At Higher Levels: This ability's damage increases by 2d6 when you reach a total character or creature level of 5th level (4d6), 11th level (6d6), and 17th level (8d6).

The brass dragons of Elkan live in the desert known as the Dreamscape, living much of their lives in a collective lucid dream. They are thoughtful dreamers, withdrawn from the world around them. Members of the Brass Bloodline struggle not to lose focus and drift into daydreaming, sometimes even in reverie for hours at a time.

Bronze Bloodline

Damage Resistance: Sonic

Breath Weapon (1/Long Rest)

You roar, blasting enemies backwards with sonic force.

Action - 20 ft. cone - 1/Long Rest - Magical

Strength Saving Throw

  • Failure: 2d6 sonic damage*, and the target is pushed up to 10 ft. away from you.

  • Success: half damage

*At Higher Levels: This ability's damage increases by 2d6 when you reach a total character or creature level of 5th level (4d6), 11th level (6d6), and 17th level (8d6).

The bronze dragons of Elkan live in coastal reefs near the Blasted Steppes. They are proud vigilantes and bounty hunters. Members of the Bronze Bloodline find it difficult not to start fights with those they consider evil or even just amoral.

Copper Bloodline

Damage Resistance: Acid

Breath Weapon (1/Long Rest)

You spew heavy caustic globs which stick to enemies and hinder them.

Action - 20 ft. cone - 1/Long Rest - Magical

Dexterity Saving Throw

  • Failure: 2d6 acid damage*, and the target is slowed until the end of your next turn.

  • Success: half damage

*At Higher Levels: This ability's damage increases by 2d6 when you reach a total character or creature level of 5th level (4d6), 11th level (6d6), and 17th level (8d6).

The copper dragons of Elkan live in secret, hiding throughout the world. They are kind, but unreliable guides to remote places. Members of the Copper Bloodline find it hard not to play petty pranks on those they don't like.

Gold Bloodline

Damage Resistance: Poison

Breath Weapon (1/Long Rest)

You breathe a twisting white gas which cripples enemies.

Action - 20 ft. cone - 1/Long Rest - Magical

Constitution Saving Throw

  • Failure: 2d6 poison damage*, and the target is poisoned for 1 minute (save ends)

  • Success: half damage

If a creature is reduced to 0 hit points with this breath weapon, the creature falls unconscious, does not roll death saving throws or die as a result of this damage.

*At Higher Levels: This ability's damage increases by 2d6 when you reach a total character or creature level of 5th level (4d6), 11th level (6d6), and 17th level (8d6).

The gold dragons of Elkan live on the Untouchable Shores, the magical mists preventing travelers from getting close. They often intervene to prevent tyrants from rising to power nearby. Members of the Gold Bloodline often feel they know what's best for others, even those they barely know.

Silver Bloodline

Damage Resistance: Cold

Breath Weapon (1/Long Rest)

You breathe a beam of ice crystals which attempt to fix to your target.

Action - 30 ft. line (5 ft. wide) - 1/Long Rest - Magical

Constitution Saving Throw

  • Failure: 2d6 cold damage*,  and the target is restrained until the end of your next turn

  • Success: half damage

*At Higher Levels: This ability's damage increases by 2d6 when you reach a total character or creature level of 5th level (4d6), 11th level (6d6), and 17th level (8d6).

The silver dragons of Elkan live in Alfand, where they protect high elven communities. They are staunch protectors, but tend to only care about their own. Members of the Silver Bloodline often struggle to look beyond their own community or social circle's problems.

Dwarf

Dwarves look like short, stout humans, though they vary in height from 4 to 5 ft. They tend to be well-muscled and hardy, but dwarves raised in non-dwarven cultures show more variability in build. Dwarves can almost universally grow beards (not just male dwarves), and have a legendary tolerance to alcohol.

Size: Medium

Walking Speed: 25 ft.

Senses: Darkvision 60 ft.

Damage Resistance: Poison

Dwarven Resilience

You have advantage on saves against the poisoned condition.

Sturdy

You have advantage on any saving throw against an effect that would knock you prone or push you.

In the world of Elkan, dwarves tend to live among their own. The largest population of dwarves live in Ironhome, where dwarves cover themselves constantly in metal armor, drink beer, and teach their young to stay true to family traditions. Another significant population, the Red Dwarves, have been imbibing the blood of red dragons and bowing to their draconic overlords for generation. Dwarves are stereotyped as a thick headed people by most of their neighbors.

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Dwarf

Elf

Elves look like thinner humans with pointed ears. They tend to be classically attractive, with clear skin and symmetrical faces, though shorter than humans by a few inches on average. Elves are relatively hairless and few can grow facial hair.

Size: Medium

Walking Speed: 30 ft.

Senses: Darkvision 60 ft.

Keen Sight and Hearing

You have advantage on perception checks, except where you cannot use either sight or hearing. Note that when you have advantage, your passive perception increases by 5.

Fey Ancestry

You are immune to spells and magical effects that would put you to sleep, and you have advantage on saves against the charmed condition.

In the world of Elkan, elves are the most common race worldwide other than humans. The pale High Elves of Ishiki live an isolationist life on their hidden island, but exiles from their lands have colonized much of the main continent. The tanned Wood Elves of Ananua, so named for the boats they built after cutting sacred forests, live in shrouded settlements in the south of Elkan. By far the most numerous are the brown-skinned Dark Elves, who have founded several prominent merchant houses in the north of Elkan. Unlike many other settings, the different ethnic groups of elves in Elkan are nearly identical biologically.

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Elf

Gnome

Gnomes look like very small elves, with pointed ears and an average height between 3 and 4 ft. Unlike elves, gnomes can grow facial hair, and it is not uncommon to see a gnome with a stylized beard. Shorter gnomes sometimes look like their heads are too big for their small bodies.

Size: Small

Walking Speed: 25 ft.

Senses: Darkvision 60 ft.​

Gnome Cunning

You have advantage on all intelligence, wisdom, and charisma saving throws.

In the world of Elkan, gnomes form two distinct ethnic groups. The forest gnomes of Ananua live in harmony with the Wood Elves, and delight in their secretive woodland communities. The better known rock gnomes are led by House McGrath in the north. The rock gnomes are famous for magical inventions, especially those which use the power of the Lord of Light, Glanis.

Gnome

Goblin

Goblins are about the size of gnomes, though they tend to be stockier. They have long claw-like fingernails, sharp teeth, outwards-pointed ears, and slightly upturned noses. They range from green to brown to orange in color.

Size: Small

Walking Speed: 25 ft.

Senses: Darkvision 60 ft.

Climbing Speed: equal to walking speed. 

Keen Smell

You can use smell most creatures within 100 ft. of you. You have advantage on perception checks, except where you cannot use smell. Note that when you have advantage, your passive perception increases by 5.

In the world of Elkan, goblins live primarily as the worker caste below their mighty hobgoblin cousins. They are stereotyped as subservient, cowardly, and silly creatures, but they cultivate this reputation so as to avoid notice from non-goblinoids.  Among goblinoids, they are known as highly organized and brilliant engineers, well able to compensate for their smaller stature, but in the wider world they can succeed at just about any job if given the chance.

Goblin

Halfling

Halflings look like humans of about half the scale. Halflings usually stand between 2.5 and 3 ft., and vary in width like a human would. Unlike humans, halflings have larger feet, and sometimes larger heads, at least in proportion.

Size: Small

Walking Speed: 25 ft.

Halfling Nimbleness

You can move through the space of hostile creatures of size medium or larger, though those spaces count as difficult terrain for you. Additionally, you can move through the spaces of friendly creatures at full speed, without counting those spaces as difficult terrain.

Lucky

When you roll a 1 on an attack roll, skill check, or saving throw (after accounting for advantage or disadvantage), you may reroll. You must use the new result, even if it is a 1.

In the world of Elkan, halflings are a hardened people. Once peaceful farmers, they became victimized by pirates and slavers who felt the halflings would be easy targets. The halflings learned to defend themselves, and believe a cosmic force of luckiness keeps them alive. Unfortunately, the halflings have to deal with near constant monstrous threats and violent neighbors.

Halfling

Kobold

Kobolds are small draconic creatures that range from 2-3 ft. tall. Their bodies are covered in colorful scales, and they have the heads and bodies of humanoid lizards, usually with two short horns extending backwards from the top of their head. Most kobolds have scales the color of one of the various species of dragon: either a chromatic like red or black, or a metallic like brass or silver. Whether kobolds are descended from dragons varies by campaign setting.

Size: Small

Walking Speed: 25 ft.

Senses: Darkvision 60 ft.​

Crawling Speed: equal to walking speed. You use this speed when prone.

Burrow Speed: 5 ft.

When you burrow, you can only burrow through dirt or other loose material, not hard materials like stone or wood. You leave a tunnel behind you, which you can crawl through with ease while crawling but a medium creature has to squeeze into.

 

In the world of Elkan, kobolds have been slaves or servants to dragons for all recorded history. The largest population of kobolds live as slaves to the Red Bloodline of dragons, who use the kobolds to tunnel ever deeper into the mountains, expanding their territory. Kobolds are sometimes able to make their way to large cities successfully, but some chromatic dragons hunt such kobolds for daring to defy the social order of draconic society.

Kobold

Hobgoblin

Hobgoblins are about the size of humans, though they tend to be a bit stockier. Like their goblin cousins, they have long claw-like fingernails, sharp teeth, outwards-pointed ears, and slightly upturned noses. They tend to be brown to orange in color, even coming close to a red.

Size: Medium

Walking Speed: 30 ft.

Senses: Darkvision 60 ft.​

Keen Smell

You can use smell most creatures within 100 ft. of you. You have advantage on perception checks, except where you cannot use smell. Note that when you have advantage, your passive perception increases by 5.

Repressed Memory

During a Short Rest - Self

Hobgoblins have a wealth of knowledge in their minds that remains buried most of the time. At the end of a short or long rest, you can swap one of your skill proficiencies for a different one. If you had expertise with the old skill for any reason, you have expertise with the new chosen skill instead.

In the world of Elkan, hobgoblins come from a society ruled by the eternal spirits of the Ancestors, powerful hobgoblins who founded the Legions- highly regimented military organizations that control goblinoid life. The Ancestors can possess the bodies of chosen descendants, and walk among them. All hobgoblins have a buried connection to the memories of the Ancestors, allowing them to show surprising skill at things they've never done before.

Hobgoblin
Minotaur

Minotaur

Minotaurs are bipedal human-animal hybrids. Most minotaurs look like they have the heads of bulls, but some look closer to female cows, or even goats. All minotaurs have horns and hooves, and they stand bipedal at heights usually between 6 and 7 ft.

Size: Medium

Walking Speed: 30 ft.

Senses: Darkvision 60 ft.

Labyrinthine Recall

You can perfectly recall every exact path you've traveled, except for any path you traveled while incapacitated.

Gore

You can use your horns as a weapon to gore your enemies. You count as proficient with your horns. Your horns

deal piercing damage equal to 1d8 + your strength modifier.

Large Frame

You count as a large creature for determining how much you can lift or push, and you have the carrying capacity of a large creature. You also count as a large creature for the sake of grappling. Otherwise, you count as a medium creature.

Click here for a breakdown of this ability's effects (3).

In the world of Elkan, minotaurs are born from eggs laid by Baphomet, the mad minotaur god of wild magic. The product of strange asexual reproduction, most minotaurs are born into male bodies, though exceptions tend to be the rule with minotaurs. Minotaurs often have eccentric interests or powerful innate magical abilities. The largest minotaur population is in Mothside City, Baphomet's favourite mortal city, though many live within The Maze, the paradoxical demiplane that is Baphomet's own mind. Baphomet can be seen on our home page.

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Mixed Heritage

While most fantastical peoples, like gnomes, dwarves, and dragonborn, are incapable of having children together, there are exceptions. Your character could have mixed elf, human, and/or orc heritage. These people might have elven ears or orcish tusks, but look otherwise like humans. Alternatively, they may look more like their non-human parent, or not have human ancestry at all.

Click here for further information (2).

Size: Medium

Walking Speed: 30 ft.

Senses: Darkvision 30 ft., or Darkvision 60 ft. if you choose both the elven and orcish features

Two of the following

  • Human Feature: one Skill of your choice

  • Elven Feature: Fey Ancestry

You are immune to spells and magical effects that would put you to sleep, and you have advantage on saves against the charmed condition.

  • Orcish Feature: Large Frame

You count as a large creature for determining how much you can lift or push, and you have the carrying capacity of a large creature. You also count as a large creature for the sake of grappling. Otherwise, you count as a medium creature.

Click here for a breakdown of this ability's effects (3).

In the world of Elkan, mixed heritage people are accepted in most communities. However, in the Borderlands and in Mahavala, those with orcish blood are viewed with disdain, and in some of the Stardust orc clans, those with human or elven blood are considered suspicious at best. Otherwise, mixed heritage people face the same discrimination in some communities as other outsiders. People with mixed heritage might call themselves half-elves or half-orcs, as applicable.

Mixed Heritage
Orc

Orc

Orcs look like more muscular humans, a few inches taller than humans on average, with skin colour ranging from grey to green. Orcs have tusks of varied size growing from their slightly elongated lower jaws. 

Size: Medium

Walking Speed: 30 ft.

Senses: Darkvision 60 ft.

Large Frame

You count as a large creature for determining how much you can lift or push, and you have the carrying capacity of a large creature. You also count as a large creature for the sake of grappling. Otherwise, you count as a medium creature.

Click here for a breakdown of this ability's effects (3).

Relentless Endurance (1/Long Rest)

You nearly lose consciousness, but find the strength inside yourself to keep standing.

No Action Cost - Self - 1/Long Rest

When you are reduced to 0 hit points but not killed outright, you can drop to 1 hit point instead.

In the world of Elkan, orcs are a persecuted and waning people. After freeing themselves from demonic control, they were one of the greatest world cultures. When elves arrived from Ishiki, they forced the orcs out of most of their lands. Now the orcs below to two main groups: the Stardust orc clans, who are constantly at war with humans and elves, and the isolationist orcs of Chalchuitzil, who worship their vampire rulers in the jungle.

Tiefling

Tiefling

Tieflings are mortals with a parent or ancestor who is some sort of fiendish creature. Usually, a tiefling looks most like their mortal ancestry, but with horns and reddish skin. Hooves, blue or purple skin, or spikey growths are also fairly common. However, because of the massive diversity of fiends, a tiefling might have features specific to their fiendish ancestor, such as backwards-bending fingers like a rakshasa, or a vulture's beak like a vrock.

Type: Fiend

Size: Medium or Small

Walking Speed: 30 ft.

Language: Infernal

Senses: Darkvision 60 ft.

Cantrips: Produce Flame -OR- Thaumaturgy

Damage Resistance: Fire

In the world of Elkan, tieflings are most often descendants of succubi and incubi, mostly due to their general proclivity to be more promiscuous and agreeable than most fiends, but also because the succubus queen Octavia has personally given birth to hundreds of tieflings across the ages. Octavia can be seen picture on our home page. People usually assume tieflings are dangerous, but that's usually because tieflings are forced into a life of crime or marginalization. Those who know better view tieflings as being closer to their mortal heritage than anything else.

Background

Backgrounds

 

Below we have listed every Background in the Elkan5e ruleset. When creating a character, you should select your Background after your Ancestry. Background is what determines the languages your character grew up speaking, as well as a few abilities your character picked up from cultural or professional training outside of your class. Any Background is a viable choice for any character class or archetype.

Arcanist

In most campaign settings, there is at least one culture where magical training is provided to everyone. In many settings, elves are the ones to build these magical 'utopias'. Most with the Arcanist background, however, are mage's apprentices from a young age, learning from local tutors away from mainstream society.

Languages: Common and two others (often one Magical Language)

Feat: one level 1 feat of your choice

Skills: two of your choice: (Recommended: Arcana and Religion)

Tools: one Crafting Tool of your choice

Items: the tools you gained proficiency with above

Starting Gold: 30 gold, which can be spent at character creation to buy nonmagical equipment at base cost.

Cantrips: two of your choice from the sorcerer or wizard spell list.

Spells: Detect Magic. You can cast this spell once per long rest without expending a spell slot. If you are a spellcaster, you count this spell as a spell you know and have prepared, and can cast it with a spell slot. This spell is a bonus on top of your normal number of spells known.

In the world of Elkan, the northern realm of Tyopalvka is a no-man's land blasted by magical experiments, monsters, and bandits. While there is no significant central government in Tyopalvka, many unscrupulous wizards have built towers and lairs here to avoid attention. Knowledge of basic magic has slowly bled out of these towers as the wizards take countless apprentices who are later released back into the general population.

Arcanist

Cosmopolitan

Characters with the Cosmopolitan background were influenced by many cultures. A cosmopolitan culture is one that includes and encourages members of different world cultures to come together. In most campaign settings, there will be several urban centers where members of any culture are welcome. Most of the time, these cosmopolitan cities are trade hubs, often located along water, and they usually have a large population.

Languages: Common and two others (usually Trade Languages)

Feat: one level 1 feat of your choice

Skills: three of your choice: (Recommended: Persuasion, Insight, and either Deception or Investigation)

Tools: any two tools

Items: the tools you gained proficiency with above

Starting Gold: 30 gold, which can be spent at character creation to buy nonmagical equipment at base cost.

 

Multicultural Knowledge

You have advantage on any skill check requiring basic information about the other ancestries and cultures represented in the cities of your setting. This could be biological information (like a nature check about the dietary needs of a gnome) or cultural information (like an insight check to tell the difference between an orc joke and an orc insult). This doesn't apply to ancient history, but does apply to current events.

In the world of Elkan, the country of Karsa is a cosmopolitan place built for the wealthy to partake of extravagant pleasures at the expense of the lower classes and slaves. Outside Karsa, the cities of Mothside City, Ka'uhane, and Batten Cliffs invite anyone to work in their chaotic ports. The Sleeping Towns are watched by gold dragons who prevent anyone from feeling unwelcome. The Borderlands between orc, human, and elven lands are home to varied peoples and never-ending warfare.

Cosmopolitan

Fey-Touched

In most campaign settings, most elves and some gnomes grow up in close harmony with nature and fey creatures. This background could also represent anyone growing up with strong elvish or fey influences.

Languages: Common and two others: (usually Elvish, Gnomish, and/or Sylvan)

Feat: one level 1 feat of your choice

Skills: two of your choice: (Recommended: Animal Handling and Nature)

Tools: two Musical Instruments of your choice and one set of Artist's Tools of your choice

Weapons: Shortbow, Longbow, Shortsword, Scimitar, and Longsword

Items: one of the above weapons, and the tools you gained proficiency with above

Starting Gold: 10 gold, which can be spent at character creation to buy nonmagical equipment at base cost.

Cantrips: Druidcraft

Spells: Speak with Animals. You can cast this spell once per long rest without expending a spell slot. If you are a spellcaster, you count this spell as a spell you know and have prepared, and can cast it with a spell slot. This spell is a bonus on top of your normal number of spells known.

In the world of Elkan, two cultural groups count as Fey-Touched. The Wood Elves and Forest Gnomes of Ananua live in shrouded forests and live in harmony with nature. The druids of Maronne raise orphans and runaway children alongside fey spirits. 

Fey-Touched

Devout

In many campaign settings, there is a culture where religion plays a central role in nearly everything they do. Some with the devout background were raised by priests. Many with the devout background are raised by devout members of a less devout society, or are members of a small sect or cult. 

Languages: Common and one other

Feat: one level 1 feat of your choice

Skills: two of your choice: (Recommended: Insight and Religion)

Tools: one set of Artist's Tools of your choice

Items: the tools you gained proficiency with above

Starting Gold: 25 gold, which can be spent at character creation to buy nonmagical equipment at base cost.

Cantrips: Guidance

Spells: Protection from Evil and Good. You can cast this spell once per long rest without expending a spell slot. If you are a spellcaster, you count this spell as a spell you know and have prepared, and can cast it with a spell slot. This spell is a bonus on top of your normal number of spells known.

In the world of Elkan, the Solar Hegemony is a predominantly human kingdom ruled by living saints who have ascended and become angels, each embodying one of their revered virtues. The Archangels, the first among the saints, look for mortal paragons of their associated virtues, and raise these mortal paragons as new angels when they die. Further northeast, the gnomish god and Lord of Light, Glanis, walks among his children, encouraging them to take up arms to protect the weak and seek the truth.

Devout

Forge-Bound

In most campaign settings, dwarves are an intensely conservative society that places a tremendous value on smithing and craftsmanship. In other settings, similar cultures exist among other ethnic groups. Some with the Forge-Bound background are the exceptions in their society, raised by blacksmiths or other craftspeople to carry the legacy of their trade.

Languages: Common and one other (usually Dwarvish or Goblin)

Feat: one level 1 feat of your choice

Skills: two of your choice: (Recommended: Athletics and History)

Tools: two Crafting Tools or Vehicle types of your choice

Weapons: Light Hammer, Mace, Battleaxe, Handaxe, Warhammer

Items: one of the above weapons, and the tools you gained proficiency with above

Starting Gold: 30 gold, which can be spent at character creation to buy nonmagical equipment at base cost.

One of:

  • Armor: Light and Medium Armor

  • Superior Armor Training

When wearing medium or heavy armor, your armor class increases by 1.

In the world of Elkan, the largest dwarven population lives in Ironhome, where residents spent most days walking around in full-body metal armor. Smithing is something that comes naturally to most dwarves, and many make their own armor. They drink ale, tell boisterous stories, and harden their heart against outsiders. Rumour has it that the dwarves used to be a more open and accepting people, but they are the target of some foul curse.

Forge-Bound

Laborer

Laborers come from humble origins, where they grew up doing manual labor. Many are farmers, miners, or other lower class working people. A player character who is a labourer could be from a small provincial town, where they tended their family farm, they could be an oppressed dockhand working in a big city, or perhaps even a former slave who has since escaped bondage.

Languages: Common and one other

Feat: one level 1 feat of your choice

Skills: two of your choice: (Recommended: Athletics and Survival)

Tools: two, which can be Crafting Tools or Gaming Sets

Vehicles: one vehicle type of your choice

Items: the tools you gained proficiency with above

Starting Gold: 10 gold, which can be spent at character creation to buy nonmagical equipment at base cost.

One of:

  • Laborer's Endurance

You gain proficiency in the athletics skills (or another skill if you already have it). You also have advantage on saving throws against effects that could cause Exhaustion.

  • Large Frame

You count as a large creature for determining how much you can lift or push, and you have the carrying capacity of a large creature. You also count as a large creature for the sake of grappling. Otherwise, you count as a medium creature.

Click here for a breakdown of this ability's effects (3). Note that if you already have Large Frame as a Mixed Ancestry character, Minotaur, or Orc, then you can't get this ability twice.

In the world of Elkan, laborers can be found everywhere. The Borderlands are a place marred by conflict but rife in resources, and cheap laborers are always being brought in from abroad to work the fields and the mines. In metropolis cities like Mothside City, the poor laborers who keep the city running are trampled beneath the feet of their so-called betters, and slavemasters in Mahavala will enslave anyone they can reach, but especially goblinoids.

Laborer

Maritime

Characters with the maritime background grew up in and around sailing and large bodies of water. Whether in the water or on the deck of boats, this character is very comfortable with the water.

Languages: Common and one other

Feat: one level 1 feat of your choice

Skills: two of your choice: (Recommended: Perception and Survival)

Tools: two, which can be Artist's Tools, Gaming Sets, or Navigator's Tools

Vehicles: Water Vehicles

Items: the tools you gained proficiency with above

Starting Gold: 25 gold, which can be spent at character creation to buy nonmagical equipment at base cost.

Strong Swimmer

You have a swim speed equal to your walking speed. If you gain a swimming speed from another source, your swimming speed increases by 5 ft. You also have advantage on all athletics checks related to swimming.

In the world of Elkan, the Isles of Takat are a cold, unforgiving place. While there is a thriving lumber industry, most youth grow up in the water, rolling logs down rivers or working on ships. The human and elven shipwright families are the most influential, and determine who is able to advance to a lucrative career. Nearby, there are strange creatures in the deeps, but the people of Takat maintain their willingness to brave the terrible tentacled horrors.

Maritime

Militant

This background is meant to represent any number of militant cultures and organizations that rely on the strength of organized armies to keep up with their magically gifted neighbors. Humans often belong to such a culture, and most campaign settings feature an empire of hobgoblins, sometimes with goblins or bugbears integrated into a militant culture. It is also possible for your character to have been raised by a militant sect within a larger culture.

Languages: Common and one other

Feat: one level 1 feat of your choice

Skills: two of your choice: (Recommended: Athletics and Intimidation)

Tools: one Gaming Set of your choice

Vehicles: two vehicle types or mounts

Weapons: all Simple Weapons

Items: one Simple Weapon, and the tools you gained proficiency with above

Starting Gold: 25 gold, which can be spent at character creation to buy nonmagical equipment at base cost.

Martial Command (1/Short Rest)

You shout a command to an ally to get moving.

1 Bonus Action - 60 ft. Ally - 1/Short Rest

Your chosen ally can immediately move up to their speed using their reaction.

In the world of Elkan, the most notable militant culture is the Empire of the Ancestors, which is a massive country founded by immortal hobgoblin Ancestors who live forever by possessing the most physically fit of their descendants. 

Militant

Noble

Nobles tend to grow up outside the larger culture they are part of, with different skills and experiences. While most characters with the noble background would have been born into such a lifestyle, others entered the aristocracy later in life, sometimes through illegal means. Others were never wealthy, but learned to fit into high society regardless.

Languages: Common and two others

Feat: one level 1 feat of your choice

Skills: two of your choice: (Recommended: History and Persuasion)

Tools: three, which can be Artist's Tools, Calligraphers' Toolsa Disguise Kit, a Forgery Kit, or Gaming Sets

Items: the tools you gained proficiency with above

Starting Gold: 50 gold, which can be spent at character creation to buy nonmagical equipment at base cost.

Coordinating Direction

You give an ally direction or advice to complete a task.

1 Bonus Action - 60 ft. Ally - 1/Short Rest

Your chosen ally has advantage on the next attack roll or ability check they make before the end of your next turn.

In the world of Elkan, the country of Karsa is rampant with inequality, and the upper class is built on the suffering of indentured servants and the desperate lower classes. In Mahavala, the leaders are supposedly the most pious, but their religious beliefs mainly involve taking whatever you can to make yourself happy, so they resemble a noble aristocracy more than a priesthood.

Noble
Outsider

Outsider

This background is meant for any character who never fit into the culture of those around them. While they didn't live alone, they were always separate from other people. Sometimes an outsider is a scorned child, sometimes a fugitive, and sometimes just someone who never had a home.

Languages: Common and two others

Feat: one level 1 feat of your choice

Skills: two of your choice: (Recommended: Deception and Stealth)

Tools: one tool of your choice, and either an Exploration Tool or Forgery Kit

Items: the tools you gained proficiency with above

Starting Gold: 10 gold, which can be spent at character creation to buy nonmagical equipment at base cost.

Charade

You shift your demeanor and body language to appear more or less dangerous than you really are. Your enemies then either fight more cautiously against you than they need to, or choose to ignore the threat you pose.

1 Bonus Action - Self - 1/Short Rest

Until the end of your next turn, creatures have disadvantage on attacks against you.

In the world of Elkan, the ruined towns of Fallow and Leslie were abandoned after an undead army swept through and killed most of the inhabitants. Most people who now live there are fugitives or pariahs who don't fit in anywhere else.

Wild

Wild characters spent a large amount of their lives living in the wilderness. Some live on their own, honing their skills, while some live in family groups or small communities. Sometimes this is because of family and cultural influence, and sometimes it's a personal choice made by people trying to escape civilization. Regardless, wild characters tend to experience regular danger in the wilderness.

Languages: Common and one other

Feat: one level 1 feat of your choice

Skills: two of your choice: (Recommended: Nature and Survival)

Tools: Navigation Tools, and two of: Artist's Tools, Crafting Tools, a Vehicle type

Items: the tools you gained proficiency with above (but not vehicles)

Starting Gold: 5 gold, which can be spent at character creation to buy nonmagical equipment at base cost.

One of:

  • Solitary Focus (1/Short Rest)

You focus on your solitary task, working more efficiently than during your hectic adventuring day.

No Action Cost - Self - 1/Short Rest

You can reroll any skill check that does not require you to interact with another creature or communicate to others.

  • Sudden Warning (1/Short Rest)

You warn an ally about incoming danger right before it strikes.

1 Reaction (when an ally fails a dexterity saving throw) - 60 ft. Visible Ally - 1/Short Rest

Your chosen ally must be able to hear you. Your chosen ally can reroll a failed dexterity saving throw.

In the world of Elkan, the Howler orcs spend most of their time in the wilderness, living among the animals. In the Morventry frontier, small halfling families live off their own skills, with little contact with civilization.

Wild
Note and Examples
Note1
Note 2
Note 3

Notes and Examples

(1) Regarding Using Old Races/Subraces

If you are coming to Elkan 5e as a veteran 5e player, you will be used to race being a choice of 'race' and sometimes a 'subrace', as well as a 'background', not a combination of ancestry and background. We wanted to separate the poison resistance inherent to dwarves from the weapons young dwarves are typically trained to use. Obviously some dwarves would not be raised by other dwarves, and some dwarves would belong to cultures that didn't care if you can wield a warhammer. Unfortunately, by separating cultural benefits (like learning to swing a warhammer) and adding them onto our new 'backgrounds', we make this system incompatible with old races and backgrounds.

 

It would be unfair for you to play the centaur race you found on the internet and then take a background from our list. If you did, you would effectively have the ancestry and cultural benefits of centaurs, as well as another race's cultural benefits, which are part of background on our list. This would give you more powers than your friend's dwarf, who is only using our system.

Of course, if someone designs an ancestry or background specifically to be compatible with Elkan 5e, then you can go right ahead. However, we also wanted to allow players to use old races alongside our new system.

If you want to play a race using the old system, which includes a race and sometimes a subrace, you can use that instead of our system. You can pick centaur and pick a subrace of your choice, as well as one of the non-Elkan 5e backgrounds, and your friend can pick the dwarf ancestry and forge-bound background from our list here. Your centaur abilities will be about the same level of power as your dwarf friend.

If you are happy using only Elkan 5e ancestries and backgrounds, you can rest easy that if your friends use the old race/subrace/background system, whether to get a unique race or a unique flavour, that everything will be as balanced as possible.

(2) Regarding Mixed Heritage: 

While in baseline 5e rules only half-elves and half-orcs were possible, we felt that elves and orcs should be able to produce offspring together if they could both do so with humans, and even if not, it's possible for a half-elf and half-orc to have a child.

(3) Regarding Large Frame: 

Medium characters have a carrying capacity of their Strength score multiplied by 15. This is the weight (in pounds) that you can carry, which is high enough that most characters don't usually have to worry about it. Large characters can carry twice as much.

Characters can push, drag, or lift a weight in pounds up to twice their carrying capacity (or 30 times your Strength score for medium characters, or 60 times their strength score for large characters). 

Minotaurs and Orcs, as well as some of Mixed Heritage, count as large creatures for only this purpose.

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